Archive for the 'running' Category

2013 San Francisco Marathon

Basically, my sister’s idea to run a marathon with our dad on Fathers Day was the best ever.

before start

It sort of didn’t feel like the best idea ever when the alarm went off at 3:45 (I slept horribly the night before the race) or while we were standing in the dark, chilly morning on the Embarcadero, but once the race got started, it was awesome.

I decided to try a new fueling plan after my horrific bonk at Wildflower. I had four vanilla Hammer Gels with me and planned to take them at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20.

Miles 1-6 (Family time)
(8:37, 8:15, 8:34, 8:09, 8:15, 9:23)

After my total pacing disaster at CIM in December, I was determined to not go out to fast. We all agreed we’d go out at 8:50 pace for the first couple miles and then re-assess. Obviously 8:50 pace didn’t quite happen, but this was a perfect way to start. I took my first gel at mile 5 and water at every aid station. I was feeling great.

z1

Miles 7-13 (the bridge to the park)
(8:14, 7:54, 8:14, 8:01, 7:48, 8:20, 8:21)
After the climb up to the bridge, I started to pull away from my family. It happened sort of gradually, and I felt kind of bad for ditching my dad on Fathers day, but my legs had settled into a slightly faster pace that felt good. I knew I was not in shape to PR and I still had a lot of miles ahead of me, so I tried to keep myself from pushing too hard.

I saw Mike around mile 10 which was a fun surprise. He was out for a 2 hour run but I didn’t know if he’d stop somewhere along the course. I took my second gel at mile 10 according to plan.

Miles 14-19 (Golden Gate Park)
(7:40, 8:08, 8:18, 8:26, 7:54, 8:12)
I got a big boost when I passed the start of the second half marathon and heard my name but couldn’t pick my friends’ faces out in the crowd.

When we lived in Daly City, I got a little tired of the park, but running through it during the race was like a nice little homecoming. It felt familiar but not stale, and although some people hate the fact that there are no spectators, I liked the chance to just zone out in the forest. I took my third gel at mile 15 and was still grabbing two cups of water at each aid station.

I didn’t really check my watch much during the race because I went into it with no expectations. My training was short and light, and the whole point of this race was just to enjoy it. But there was a race clock at Stowe Lake and for a quick second, I thought about my chances of pushing for a BQ time. Math is always harder 15+ miles into a marathon, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t going to happen and I should just stay relaxed.

Miles 20-26.2 (the Haight, the Mission, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, and the FINISH)
(8:14, 8:13, 8:09, 8:40, 8:12, 8:11, 8:23)
It was around mile 19 that I realized the fourth gel just wasn’t going to happen. My stomach didn’t feel too bad, but I didn’t want to risk it and figured I’d taken in more than usual during a marathon, so I’d probably be fine. My legs started to feel a little dead on Haight street, so the steep downhill into the Mission was kind of painful.

The park had been overcast but it was sunny in the Mission, and that made the long uphill stretch on 16th street pretty tough. I peeled off my arm warmers, kept my eyes on the ground (it was BRIGHT!) and began to embrace the suck. I glanced at my watch and realized I would probably beat my time from CIM, which perked me up a little bit.

The Lululemon cheer station around mile 24 was the one of the best things about this race in 2010 and this year was no different. The loud music, and all those people with so much energy were just what I needed to push me through the last two miles.

Once you pass AT&T park, the bridge looks really close, but it feels like the LONGEST mile ever. I had absolutely no finishing kick at all and was really thirsty. But as soon as the finish line came into view, I smiled and got myself across in just under 3:40.
Z

My dad and sister weren’t too far behind, finishing at 3:57.
finished

I absolutely ADORE the San Francisco marathon. I love the hills, the bridge, the park, the weather, and the fact that my friends and family were all out running too.  It’s one of those races I’ll keep coming back to as long as I can.

stats
3:39:51 (8:24 min/mile)
770/5763 overall
96/1896 female
22/455 age group

20 miles, the best way possible

I used to dread 20 mile runs.  Once I got going, they were fine, but I got so nervous the night before, afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish.  Or that I’d have to walk, or I’d run out of water, or get lost, or get bored by myself…

6hourrun

Now after having trained for multiple marathons, 20 miles aren’t really as intimidating as they used to be.  And last weekend’s 20 was the best ever!

Running 19 1.1 mile loops may sound horrible, but it was awesome.

bridge

This scenery will never get old.

Alyssa and I tested out our new matching Hokas…

hokatwins

Ellie cheered for us the whole time (with a cowbell, of course)…

ellie

and I got to see my friends every lap!

grouppic

It was a great morning, and now with just 9 days until the San Francisco Marathon, I’m feeling totally fired up and ready to go!

(huge thanks to Naomi for all the photos!)

China Camp Half Marathon

china camp

This was the hardest race I’ve run in a long time.  The course was not too outrageously challenging on its own: 1800ish ft of elevation gain (concentrated in two big hills at mile 2 and mile 8) and some marginally technical rocky parts; but my dead legs made it really tough.

Why were my legs dead? That’s a great question, because I haven’t actually been doing that much with them.  It was massively frustrating to just feel like my feet were covered in cement any time the trail started climbing at all.  For the first four miles, my head was not in a good place.  Neither were my legs, and neither was my stomach.

The first hill (in the picture above) was about a mile long, and I walked quite a bit of it.  When we finally reached the top, it still took a mile or so to feel decent.  The course loops back through the start/finish area at around mile 6, and it really wasn’t until I passed through there that I started to feel a little better.  But of course, there was another hill right after that.

china camp 2

The second hill was at least run-able, but maybe “run” is not the right word, because although I felt like I was running but I’m sure to anyone watching, it was more of a pathetic shuffle.  Once I finally reached the top of that, I got to run through some redwoods, which is always totally blissful even with super dead legs.

The last few miles were just sort of blah. It was pretty, but I just couldn’t get my head in the right place, and that was frustrating.  I ALWAYS feel grateful to be able to run, and to get to do it in such a beautiful place is awesome.  I’m not sure what the issue was today – possibly just a crappy attitude to match the crappy feeling in my legs.

china camp finish

Still, I stuck with it to finish in 2:01 and managed to eke out a 3rd place finish in my age group.

photo(1)The best part of the day was getting to hang out with good friends.  I love small, low-key races like this, and I love it even more when I’m there with some of my favorite people.

IMG_6541

Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE Inside Trail Racing.  They are so well organized, their courses are fun and well-marked, the races are affordable, and the post-race food is awesome. If you live in Northern California and want to run a trail race, do one of theirs! (this is my own opinion and they have no idea who I am or that I’m writing this)

Mothers Day 5K and some other workouts I’ve loved lately

photo (29)

As soon as I decided to run the San Francisco Marathon, I knew I’d have to be smart about getting in a few long runs without overdoing it.  I’m super prone to IT band flare-ups any time I increase my running volume too fast, and I am determined to do it right this time!

On Saturday morning I talked my dad into running 17 miles with me, on an awesome path that’s close to my house but that I’d never run before.  We started around 9:00/mile and progressed to 8:1x by the end.  It felt surprisingly good, even though it was over 80 degrees when we finished.  If I can just remember to start slowly during the race…

There was a Mothers Day 5K at Crissy Field, and Mike generously offered to push Ellie in the stroller.  I figured it wasn’t going to be a very awesome race for me because I’d run so much more than usual the day before, but I decided to just go out and do the best I could.  I didn’t look at my watch a single time during the race, but I could tell I did the first mile MUCH faster than the second.  There course was a loop followed by an out and back, with the turn-around at about 2.5 miles.  I was the 7th place woman as we approached the turnaround, but after that, I picked it up as much as possible and managed to pass a couple people and finish 4th!

photo (30)

My splits ended up being 6:27 – 7:11 – 6:43. I knew that second mile was slow!
17 miles on Saturday + a hard 5K on Sunday meant my whole body was TOTALLY done on Monday. I was more sore than after Wildflower. It was a rough day, so of course I took it as a rest day.

Last night we did a new-to-me workout at Masters and I think it’s my new favorite. It was 5×100 on a 5 minute interval (which is SUPER long…over 3 minutes to recover) but the 100s were 100% all-out sprints. I usually do my 100s around 1:40, and these were 1:18. It was really painful to go that fast (that’s BLAZING fast for me…but pretty slow for serious swimmers) but with all that recovery time, I swam super easy 100s, and it really helped me prepare for the next sprint. It was a totally different workout than I’m used to, but it felt awesome to go as hard as I possibly could. I’m so glad I started going to Masters.

Walt Stack 10K (PR!)

A 70 mile bike ride is probably not the best way to spend the day before a 10K race, but it obviously worked out OK, because I beat my previous PR by 18 seconds!

Saturday morning, I went to a group ride planning on riding about 52 miles.  When we got to the usual turn around, there was some chatter about extending the ride and going down (and then back up) a hill they call “the wall.” I felt good and had grabbed an extra Gu before the ride, so I decided to keep going.  We descended the wall, and then kept going down, down, down until we were in Milpitas, which is a LONG way from home!

bike

The climb back up was not too bad, except for a small segment that was incredibly steep.  I tried sitting and standing, and felt like I was about to start rolling backwards at any second.  Fortunately it was really short, because I maxed out my heart rate and felt like I was going to throw up. Fun!  We cruised back into town for a total of 69.2 miles (according to my Garmin, which I forgot to re start at a few stoplights, so it was probably over 70…but I’m just going to stick with what the Garmin says!)

My legs were tired, and I slacked a little and didn’t do a transition run, but I now feel like I’m ready to tackle the insane bike course at Wildflower!

Sunday morning, we got up early, drove into the city, and picked up Alyssa for the Walt Stack 10K at Little Marina Green.  I had forgotten to charge my Garmin after the bike ride, so I planned on running purely by feel.

race1

We did a 1.3 mile warm-up around Crissy Field Marsh and were ready to go. It was a PERFECT day, nice and sunny but not too windy.  When the gun went off I went out at a pace that felt fast but not too horribly uncomfortable, and just tried to hold it there.  We ran down to Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate bridge, then turned around and back past Marina Green to Fort Mason.  We climbed up and over the hill before turning around (those hills were ROUGH!)

I was running with 3 older guys and we kept alternating the lead in our little pack.  With about a mile to go things started feeling a little ugly, but I tried to pick it up a little.  I had absolutely NO kick left for the final stretch and was a little bummed to see the clock tick past 44:00, but I was still overjoyed to finish in 44:12 (a PR by 18 seconds).

race3

Good enough for second place female!

Mike was a total rock star and pushed Ellie in the stroller for the whole race.
race2

I’m now convinced the Crissy Field area is my lucky running spot because it’s where I set my 5K PR, too!

Chabot Half Marathon Race Report

chabot

This race was such a great one.  I ran the 30K last year, but since I have no real interest in running anything longer than 13 right now, I signed up for the half marathon.

At the last minute, I decided to run without a Garmin, and I think it ended up being a great decision.  I pushed myself hard the whole time, without getting caught up in what my pace was or how much more distance I had to cover.

It was an absolutely perfect day for running, and a little bit warmer than last year.  The first couple miles wind around the lake on a paved path.  It always takes me a few miles to warm up, and this race was no exception.  I felt pretty crappy for the first half hour.  Tight legs, upset stomach, head not in the game.

But as soon as we switched to the dirt trail and started climbing, I felt a lot better.  I could see a few women in front of me, but couldn’t tell whether they were running the 30K or the half (they stay together for 6 or 7 miles).  I sort of tried to keep up, but without killing myself.  We reached the first aid station and I skipped it because I felt great and still had plenty of water in my handheld.

This year I was totally prepared for the shooting range, so I didn’t freak out at all when I hear gunshots.  I did try to get through that section as fast as possible, though!

At one point I ended up running near a guy with a dog.  He asked if I knew how much we had left, and I happily told him I had no idea.  I assumed we were probably around the 8 or 9 mile mark, but couldn’t be sure.  A few more ups and downs, and before I knew it, I was approaching the second aid station.  I figured there couldn’t be more than 3 miles to go so again, I just ran through.

chabot2

Eventually the trail turned back into asphalt and I thought there would only be a mile or so left, until I saw a sign that said “marina, 2.8 miles.” Damn.

The last 2.8 miles were rolling hills that were sort of crowded with families out for a walk (how DARE they enjoy time outdoors when I paid at least $30 to shuffle my way through a half marathon?!), and I kept passing and getting passed by the guy in the red (who you can see over my shoulder in the picture above).

I was pushing it pretty hard for the last mile, but was shocked when I came around the corner to see the clock read 1:48.  Based on the elevation chart and how little I’ve been running this month, I told Mike I was sure it would take me about 2 hours.

elevation

1:48:22 (8:16 min/mile)
2nd female
8th/71 overall

I cannot wait to sign up for more trail races!

 

On Training

I ran my first marathon severely undertrained.  I was still in college, and I really wanted to call myself a marathoner.  I didn’t, however, want to stop going to the bars on Saturday nights (okay, and several other nights) and I also didn’t particularly enjoy heading out for 2+ hours running by myself (the other people I knew running marathons at that point were MUCH faster than I was).  So I ran 16 miles the weekend before the race, showed up for the 2005 Nike Women’s Marathon, and jog-walked my way to a 4:41 marathon.

I was excited to be able to call myself a marathon finisher, but I knew I could have done much better if I’d actually put in the time and effort to train properly.  I was a year older and wiser for my second marathon, trained a lot smarter, and dropped 27 minutes.  I started running more miles, doing more speedwork, and finally managed to qualify for Boston at my fifth marathon.  It was a lot more satisfying to run a hard race knowing I’d put in the work to get there.

When I signed up for Wildflower, I knew I wanted to try and train hard for it.  We’ve had to make some sacrifices (especially Mike, who ends up hanging out with Ellie a lot when I’m at the pool or on my bike), but I didn’t want to repeat my last 70.3 training regimen, which lasted about two months and definitely did not contain nearly enough mileage. The whole point for that race, just like my first marathon, was to be able to say that I had completed a half Ironman.

bikeride

Whereas triathlon training used to be something I had to squeeze in around my social life and school work, now it’s something I prioritize and genuinely enjoy doing.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother signing up for triathlons.  I love the feeling of finishing up 54 miles on the bike with a good friend, nailing my 15th 100 m repeat in the pool, squeezing in a 7 mile run between the time I leave work and when I have to pick up Ellie from daycare, and hopping off my trainer after an hour long sweatfest at 5 AM.   I still have bad workouts, obviously, but the process of training and the routine I’ve gotten into feels amazing.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of chasing new distances and fast times without thinking about what’s involved or whether you really even want to do it.  I know, for instance, that I’ll probably never have the desire to train for 100 mile trail races even though I think crossing the finish line of one would feel completely awesome.  With the limited amount of time I have, I need to make sure that I’m spending it doing what I love, not just trying to have new finishes to brag about.  At the end of the day, nobody really cares what you’ve run or what your PRs are.  If you’re doing it because it’s something you think you should, you’re wasting your time.

photo (16)

This morning I took Ellie out in the stroller for a 6 mile run on a path I run all the time.  There was nothing out of the ordinary, and my pace wasn’t anything special, but it’s workouts just like this that remind me how much I love to run.  My legs didn’t feel particularly fresh, but I was so grateful to be able to be out running, listening to Ellie point out dogs and squirrels and enjoy a calm morning outside. In the end, it’s not just about crushing PRs and chasing new distance records, it’s about finding the joy in training.



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